Kiwanis flag display to honor military, safety, medical workers

Chris Burke wanders through the rows of American flags in the Kiwanis Park of Honor in 2018. (PETER CURRIER/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

WESTFIELD — The Kiwanis Club of Westfield will have its fifth annual To Serve and Protect Park of Honor ceremony Saturday, Nov. 6, and orders are open for people to purchase an American flag in honor of a loved one who served as a first responder, in the military, or as a frontline healthcare worker.

Westfield Kiwanis Club Director Kellie Brown said that one can purchase a flag with a dedication for $30 each, or four flags for $100. Beginning Nov. 6, the flag will be flown on the lawn in front of Westfield Middle School. The display will come down the Saturday following Thanksgiving.

For the first time last year, as the winter surge of COVID-19 escalated, the Kiwanis Club expanded the criteria to include healthcare workers who worked throughout the pandemic. It also honored the 76 veterans who died at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home early in the pandemic.

“As we come out of this pandemic I think it is more important to recognize those who were on the front lines of it,” said Brown, adding that without healthcare workers, the nation would still be in the worst of the pandemic.

This year, one person purchased a flag in honor of the 14 American soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan in August as the U.S. completed its chaotic final pullout from the country after 20 years of war.

She said that the flag display and the ceremony on Nov. 6 can be used as a moment of unity in a time when the country is divided in many respects.

“Even with the state of the nation and the turmoil we are experiencing, what a great way to stay united and stand for American beliefs by purchasing a flag,” said Brown.

The money that is raised from the flag sales will go into a fund for a youth camp scholarship. Any child in Greater Westfield whose parent or grandparent served is eligible for a scholarship for up to $200 for a week of summer camp.

Flag orders are due by next Friday, Oct. 29. For more information or to download an order form, visit westfieldkiwanis.org/honor-a-hero-at-westfield-kiwanis-park-of-honor. The completed order form can be returned by mail, with payment by check. Donations to Kiwanis are tax-deductible.

The names of the honoree and sponsor will be displayed on a card attached to each flag. After the Park of Honor display concludes on Nov. 27, donors can pick up their flag and card to keep as a memento.

Brown said that last year Kiwanis sold 140 flags, a figure they hope to at least match this year, though Brown said that sales so far in 2021 have been slow.

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